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Two Republicans defending Bush = Political Smackdown? I think not.

Reported by Chrish - March 15, 2006

On The Big Story today 3/15/06, the political smackdown segment had Kellyanne Conway, the fast-talking Republican strategist/apologist, and Chris Horner, a Republican lawyer and member of the Competitive Enterprise Institute, discussing Senator Norm Coleman's remarks that Bush's Cabinet was like a team of "exhausted hockey players, and need a break." As you'd expect, there was a lot of head nodding and agreement and host Gibson was hard-pressed to stir things up.

He began by stating that nobody, at least on "Bush's side", has any malice towards the Cabinet members or senior staff, but it's been 6 years and maybe a shake-up would be good. What's the argument against that?" (to Horner) An interesting thing happened at that moment: I could see Horner's lips moving in answer, but no sound came out and I could hear Gibson's voice editied in, "or are you for it?" Apparently Gibson was anticipating one answer and got another and they had to "fix" it before airing. Horner's voice cut back in as he said " I agree with the Senator, what I believe is his thesis." He said ultimately it's Bush's decision to hire and/or fire, but the Democrats should be scoring off this White House and they're not. (Comment: I know, a real non sequitur. There's more, and I'm leaving out the worst of the rambling analogies.) Whether it's new people, he doesn't know. But if you don't believe some sort of revisiting of the approach is necessary, that these public affairs debacles would have happened to anybody, then it sort of proves Coleman's thesis.

Gibson suggested to Conway that what Coleman was suggesting was that everyone should tender their resignations, and Bush could decide which to accept. She said (for the first but not last time) that it's Bush's privilege, but it's laughable to her that any Senator could suggest that anyone be "term-limited." She said they hate term-limits in the Senate and they think the president's staff should be term-limited.
Look, she rambles, the reason Bill Clinton had so many Chiefs of Staff (four) had little to do with wanting fresh blood; those people were fatigued for a different reason.

Conway thinks that it would be difficult to bring in new people, and have to tell five new people national secrets, the current staff have "wisdom and experience", and hats off to them because they could be making "a gazillion dollars" in the private sector. Yep, these folks will be rich forever, rewarded not for public service but for service to this administration.

Gibson is uncharacteristically playing devil's advocate, probably because otherwise it would be three of them in agreement - it's Bush's prerogative, wisdom and experience, blah blah zzzzzzz.
He says Andy Card, Bush's Chief of Staff (and soon to be the longest-serving CoS in US history, Conway tells us) sleeps four hours a night with his Blackberry on his chest; give him some time off, let him run for office, make some money, but surely someone who has had some sleep lately might be better for the job.

Horner makes some lame jokes then says "Kellyanne's right - it's experience, it's wisdom, but you can also get into a rut." Again, it's up to Bush. "The question is, if you revisit what's happened and say would this have happened to anybody, and/or is this the acceptable way we want to --- how can you not have credit for an astounding economy like this? OK, you can't say that's acceptable so again personnel policy is entirely up to Bush, but it's something that needs to be revisited. "

Gibson overtalks the last sentence or two, calling on Kellyanne and asking if Bush is maybe too loyal? He only has to talk to them; they have to talk to the whole world; give them a break. Conway says there's a "duality of loyalties" and Bush is loyal to his staff and vice-versa. She admits that some in the upper levels are tired and jaded, but once you get past Karl Rove and Andy Card and Scott McClellan and some others, there is a constant influx of young new blood at middle and lower levels. She has dresses older than some of the young staff, and she's sure Karl listens to them and takes advice from them on technology and stuff like that. (Comment: she means they show him how to use his wiretapping hardware.)

Comment: This was pretty much a choir singing the White House line that the staff is fine as is and it's Bush's decision anyway. One could wonder, however, if Mr. Horner had lunch with Ann Coulter today - some of his ramblings were quite disjointed, as you can see.

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